Chr. Hansen-funded probiotic study points to boosts in immune health

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/
©iStock/
A Chr Hansen-funded study reveals the benefits probiotic consumption has on flu-like sickness as the results suggest a daily regimen may be justified for particular at-risk populations, such as children.

The Danish bioscience firm along with colleagues from The Netherlands and France draw upon data obtained from 22 probiotic strains, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus​ and Bifidobacterium animalis

They conclude that taking probiotics can reduce the number of sick days by over 54 million days per year.

“Probiotics are already well established in the healthcare industry, and numerous studies have highlighted the therapeutic potential of specific probiotic strains in helping to maintain a healthy immune system and supporting the defence against harmful bacteria,”​ says Andrew Scorey, senior vice president, Chr. Hansen Human Health.

“In addition to the health benefits to an individual, this study demonstrates that taking probiotics also contributes to reducing costs to society and reducing the use of antibiotics.

“We believe that the impact of probiotics on healthcare will continue to grow in the years to come as we continue to unlock the potential of good bacteria.”

YHEC and Cochrane

Interest in the potential impact of probiotics on health outcomes has been increasing in recent years with investigations into several therapeutic areas, including respiratory tract infections (RTIs) gaining momentum.

According to a recent survey​ among health care providers who routinely prescribe medication, 61% had recommended probiotic food or supplements to their patients.

Several clinical studies have evaluated the effectiveness of probiotics when administered to healthy subjects in reducing the incidence and duration of infectious respiratory conditions.

The underlying data used in the study came from two independent reviews. Results from The York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) shows that probiotics significantly reduced RTI episode duration.

The Cochrane Collaboration assesses​ the effectiveness of probiotics, compared with placebo, in the prevention of acute upper RTIs in healthy people of all ages and reported that probiotics reduced RTI incidence and antibiotic prescription rate.

Study methods

The team began by employing a microsimulation model to reproduce a study population representative of the US national demographics for age and gender.

RTI incidence was based on the influenza-like illness outpatient consultation rate reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) FluView.

In addition, data on vaccination, on factors that negatively impact RTI outcomes, on resource utilisation, and on productivity loss were obtained from US national databases.

The analysis showed that generalised probiotic intake in the US population for 2017–2018 would have allowed cost savings for the health care payer of €4.1m based on the YHEC scenario.

The Cochrane scenario yielded savings of €335m by averting 19 million and 54.5 million RTI sick days, respectively, compared to no probiotics.

Further analysis reveals that absences from work decreased by 3.58–4.2 million days when applying the YHEC and Cochrane data, respectively.

‘Strong case for probiotics’

“We already know that the overuse of antibiotics can cause bacteria to become resistant, meaning current treatments will no longer work,” ​adds Scorey.

“This study provides further evidence of how probiotics and ‘good bacteria’ can respond to some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

“This study builds on independent clinical trials and translates the clinical findings into cost and impact on primary health care,”​ said Adam Baker, senior manager, human health development at Chr. Hansen.

“The results present a very strong case for probiotics. As a result of this study, we now have a new simulation model that will provide us with new ways to work with data in future studies.”

Source: Front. Pharmacol.

Published online: doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00980

Probiotics Reduce Health Care Cost and Societal Impact of Flu-Like Respiratory Tract Infections in the USA: An Economic Modeling Study.”

Authors: Lenoir-Wijnkoop I, Merenstein D, Korchagina D, Broholm C, Sanders ME and Tancredi D

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